You’ve probably experienced “eye floaters” before; those dark squiggly lines in your field of vision. Everybody gets them, usually while looking out the window on a sunny day, or while working on a computer. This article will explore everything there is to know about eye floaters, including why you’re seeing them, and if you need to worry.
WHAT IS AN EYE FLOATER?
Floaters usually come with age. The vitreous humor is the jelly-like matter that fills most of the eyeball. Vitreous is usually clear, but as we age specks or strands in the vitreous shrink and cast a shadow on the retina. That’s what those little black specks are, shadows on the retina.
WHY THEY COME AND GO.
We see floaters better in certain lighting, against a background, or when the light is on a particular angle. Most people notice floaters more when looking at a bright background, like a computer screen or out the window on a sunny day. This is because the floaters aren’t as transparent as the rest of the vitreous still is. Since they’re darker, they’re more noticeable on a bright background.
WHO’S MORE LIKELY TO GET FLOATERS?
Since floaters are a natural part of the aging process, anyone can get them, but there are some who are more prone. Those who are nearsighted are likely to see floaters because their vitreous fluid is a slightly different consistency, making them more susceptible. If someone has had a cataract operation they are more likely to see floaters, along with people who have diabetes.
CAN WE GET RID OF THEM?
Not really. There is a surgery available for those with severe floaters, but those are extreme and rare cases. During the surgery, they remove the vitreous fluid completely, replacing it with a salt solution. It has significant risks, which is why the surgery isn’t worth it for most of us – whose floaters are just a bit of an annoyance that we live with.
YOU CAN HELP PREVENT FLOATERS.
Since it is a natural part of aging, you can’t stop floaters altogether. However, there are things you can do to keep your eyes healthy and slow the rate that floaters appear:
– Wear UVA and UVB protected sunglasses, wraparound sunglasses that cover the full eye are best.
– Rest the eyes often, especially in front of computer and television screens.
– Maintain a healthy weight, eating a varied and nutritious diet.
– Stop smoking.
WHEN IT’S MORE THAN JUST A FLOATER.
There are times when floaters are something more than natural aging. For example, if you’re suddenly seeing a large increase in floaters, it could be a sign of a retinal detachment. There are usually other symptoms involved though such as flashes of light or a sudden decrease in their field of vision. Retinal detachment is serious though and without treatment, could lead to blindness.
Other causes for floaters could include:
– Inflammation or an infection in the eye.
– Trauma to the eye or retina.
– Eye Tumors.
– Diabetic Retinopathy.
Whenever you’re concerned about your eye health, it’s best to follow your instincts and speak to your optometrist. Nothing is worth the risk, when it comes to your vision.